Vegetables could make concrete stronger, environmentally friendly
Vegetables are good for the body. They also appear to be good for concrete.
Engineers at Lancaster University are working with industrial partners at Cellucomp Ltd UK to research over the next two years how concrete mixtures can be strengthened and made more environmentally friendly by adding nanoplatelets extracted from the fibers of root vegetables, reports Planning & Building Control Today.
The work, supported with EU Horizon 2020 funding, will strengthen findings from early tests that have demonstrated that concrete mixtures including nanoplatelets from sugar beet or carrot significantly improve the mechanical properties of concrete.
The vegetable-composite concretes were also found to outperform all commercially available cement additives, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes and at a much lower cost.
The root vegetable nanoplatelets work to increase the amount of calcium silicate hydrate – the main substance that controls the performance of concrete and stop any cracks that appear in the concrete.
By increasing the performance of concrete, smaller quantities are needed in construction. The production of ordinary Portland cement, one of the main ingredients for concrete, is carbon intensive. Its production accounts for 8 percent of total global CO2 emissions, according to researchers. That amount is forecast to double in the next 30 years due to rising demand.
The proof-of-concept studies highlighted that adding the root vegetable nanoplatelets saved 40 kilograms of ordinary Portland cement per cubic meter of concrete. That is attributed to the greater strength of the root vegetable mixture.
The vegetable-based composites were also found to have a denser microstructure, which is important to prevent corrosion and increase the lifespan of the materials.